The “Loveless” editorial featured significant journalistic shortcomings by the Managing Board
In the more than three years I have been The Cava lier Daily's ombudsman, I cannot remember seeing anything else this bad. \n"Loveless" (March 26) was an editorial decrying an alcohol-centric event meant to raise money for the One Love Foundation. The editorial also attacked how the foundation has spent its money. The Cavalier Daily's Managing Board, the group responsible for the paper's editorials, did all this mockingly, with puns and word play, even while it chastised the email promoting the fundraiser for tasteless word play. It was beyond sophomoric.
The One Love Foundation honors Yeardley Love, the University student and lacrosse player killed nearly two years ago by George Huguely, another University student and lacrosse player. Huguely, who drank heavily that day and also on others, is scheduled to be sentenced for the crime later this month.
The editorial's insensitivity was enormous and its malice was misdirected. No one at the One Love Foundation knew anything about the fundraiser before the editorial was published. The Managing Board could have discovered that by contacting the foundation. But no one did that - even though the editorial included some information that should have made the writers doubt the connection: "This fundraiser... was not publicized through One Love's primary channels. There is no sign of it on the foundation's website... Nor is anything official posted on the 'In Memory of Yeardley Love: UVA Lacrosse Player' page on Facebook."
Nevertheless, the editorial went on as if the fundraiser were a One Love event.
Cavalier Daily Editor-in-Chief Matthew Cameron recognizes it was poor journalism.
"Basic reporting was neglected in the rush to get the editorial into print," Cameron said in an email, "and I think the lesson we take away from this is that it would be better to withhold publication for a day or two if that's what it takes to get the facts right."
The editorial responded to an email promoting an event at Boylan Heights. It said a $5 wristband would give buyers access to "these awesome drink specials: $2 Starr Hill LOVE pints, $9 Starr Hill LOVE pitchers, $5 Double rails, $4 'Lovely' shooters." The board contacted Chloe Lyons, the University student who sent the email, but did not verify that she represented One Love.
The Managing Board apparently took the One Love logo in the email and the promise that One Love t-shirts and bracelets would be on sale at the event as proof of the connection. I do not know what made the Board think One Love had "booked" Boylan Heights. It had not.
Lyons did not respond to an email from me, but Lexi Love, Yeardley's sister, said Lyons is a member of the sorority Yeardley Love belonged to and she's helping to organize that sorority's "Run for Yeards," a 5K run raising money for One Love and for a scholarship the sorority has named in Love's honor. One Love knew about the run, but not the Boylan Heights event.
Lexi Love said One Love has had events such as dances and golf tournaments which included alcohol, but it has not had and it would not have an event focused on drinking.
In addition to bashing the event - which was cancelled, according to Cameron - the editorial ridiculed some One Love projects and offered unsolicited advice about how the foundation should spend its money. A call to the foundation might have cleared some of that up, too. Love was a lacrosse player.
I do not know if it was the game itself or the joy of working on a team that drew her to the sport, but it was obviously a big part of her life. So it seems appropriate that a field at her old school and lacrosse camps for elementary school kids and support for lacrosse teams - particularly teams in financially poor communities - should be part of her legacy. The Yeardley Reynolds Love Unsung Hero award that annually recognizes two ACC lacrosse players who "embody and reflect the four characteristics that embody the One Love Mission: service, kindness, humility, and sportsmanship" seems like a good fit. So does the program being organized at Johns Hopkins to explore the sources of violent behavior in young people, and to identify ways to combat those sources. Not that it matters what I or the Managing Board think about One Love's projects.
This foundation is not a governmental body spending taxpayers' money or an organization acting in the University's name. It is a small group of people who knew and loved a young woman. Because they knew and loved her, they know best what should be done in her memory. And they should be able to do that without attacks from a newspaper which clearly failed in its responsibility to fairness, to accuracy, to decency and to its community.
Tim Thornton is the ombudsman of The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.